on very rare occasions i can talk darla into sporting matching top knots with me. on these days i hear the phrase that has followed us around for the past 4 years a little more: she looks just like you.
yes. she does. i think i’ve confessed on here before that i’m not entirely sure that she isn’t just me. that i’ve reincarnated myself before i’m even dead. the lines between where i stop and where she starts have always been blurry. as those lines are beginning to take on definition life has gotten a whole lot more complicated.
don’t get me wrong, darla has always been incredibly willful, ready to make her mark on the world from the youngest of ages and it’s something i love about her…but it makes life incredibly difficult at times.
i’ve come to the awareness that the things i don’t like about darla, the things i nag on, over-parent and try to over correct with her are really the things i don’t like about myself. i’d venture to say that’s how all relationships work but that would be digressing. what i want to convey is that it’s especially difficult to come to terms with the little person that is a mirror image of myself, not just in looks.
i have to face and own up to the fact that the things that frustrate me the most about her were put into her by me in one way or another whether it be nature or nurture. there are so many times when i do things wrong as a parent, when i handle things wrong. some days it seems that everything i do is wrong. when at the end of the day i admit that everything could have been different if i had focused on changing myself instead of changing her. i get fixated on trying to correct things in her that remind me of myself at her age because i want her experience with the world to be different. i sometimes cut her interaction with this world short by trying to force my will instead of leaving it all up to the universe to figure out.
i wish, oh i wish, i could just sit her down and tell her that i don’t have all the answers. that i don’t understand the way of the world any more than she does, that adults seeming to have the knowledge is a farce. i wish i could take her by the hand and tell her that what it’s really all about is us finding the answers together. but how can i explain such a thing to a little girl who doesn’t stop spinning in circles long enough to focus on such a discussion?
i don’t really have a conclusion for this post. all i can ask is that you send me some of your positive thoughts and energy, or a virtual back pat as i try to make progress on this area of myself. she’s the most important mirror in our house and taking a good, long look into that mirror has been taxing for me lately. i’ll need any extra support i can get.
thanks. you’re the best.
One thought on “for the days when we’re just too much alike”
If she IS exactly like you then the pattern you followed may be hers. I found the ages from 4-7 to be the most challenging for me. I really can’t recall any combat with you through the first several years and that I was so shocked the summer after you turned 4 that we seemed to be having so many daily conflicts. But I have forgotten so much of the day to day issues and whether it was my methods or other life issues that invaded our peace. And I had so many others involved in your daily care and education….wasn’t doing it all myself since I was working each day to teach other people’s kids. And I don’t think I “got” you like you “get” Darla. (For example, I had no clue why you couldn’t eat certain foods due to their texture.) I had a lot of positive feedback from your day care provider, preschool teachers, sunday school and bible school teachers, babysitters and it was generally positive so even when a problem was reported it was generally kindly conveyed. Your antics always had such entertainment value that even a tantrum or outburst was later funny.(Even controlling people can respect a good drama.) And during first grade your teacher made the point that all of the actions that made dealing with you in a class of 6 year olds complicated would be attributes as an adult and that leaders and highly intelligent kids are often difficult to deal with when trying to control them rather than to guide. And I enrolled in a course offered at my school about that time for learning to teach “Gifted” kids that emphasized that the brightest kids are often the toughest to deal with in a traditional classroom. But still, you had experiences that were unpleasant and give you bad memories that you don’t want to repeat for Darla. I just don’t think you can get through childhood or parenthood without having unpleasant episodes, regardless of whether parent and child are perfect match or quite different from each other. Being a child and being a parent is hard work. You can strive to minimize difficult times but its not always going to fall out the way you hope. I think you are on the right track keeping her engaged in a wide variety of outlets such as trips to nature, library, museums, shopping, entertainment and getting enough sleep and good nutrition. Rewarding her for the most appropriate behavior and not giving huge doses of attention for inappropriate seems to be working well. She does like to shock and awe so I think its good to give her the most reinforcement for what you want to occur and try to be least reactive when you know she is provoking just for the reaction. In Darla’s case she seems to be somewhat ahead of you….so maybe she will reach “the age of reason” closer to 6. You had some sort of epiphany the summer before second grade. You actually told me that you were thinking about your life in the past and how you wanted to change it for the future and that you were thinking about ways of doing things differently. And you did. (And when I realized you needed support in tangible rewards we went out and bought all those Lisa Frank school supplies and your second grade teacher’s weekly reports gave the feedback needed to reward you with an item each week.) I think Darla will have the same sort of event (but probably with way more drama) and she’ll let you know she’s ready to proceed with a plan you both devise. Keep in mind that she is not growing up in the same environment that you grew up in. Rural life is very different than urban. (She is not going to be able to accuse you of making her childhood boring due to watching corn grow her entire youth. Maybe if her brain neurons get too overloaded she can spend some summers at Grandma’s observing the growth of corn.) I think you understand her need for continuous stimulation better than I understood your needs for out of the house experiences. But your environment provided so much opportunity for climbing trees, digging in dirt, collecting rocks, walks to the creek, playing with cats and I think you are on the right track seeking those opportunities for her in local parks, etc. I think you will figure it out. Some days will be pretty tough but in the long run I think you are a good mother/daughter team.